Today, my baby boy turns 2

He is my VBAC victory.  My baby.  My sweet… sweet… Ezekiel.  We’ll be celebrating his birthday tomorrow so that his Abuela can be here for the festivities.

I wanted to take some time to share with you through photos my life over the past few weeks.  As any gardener and homesteader knows, Spring time is a busy, busy time.  I wanted to show you some of my gardening updates and life pictures before I leave for Spain next week!  One of my prayers is that while we are gone, my hubby will keep my garden and plants watered and tended.  Totally crossing my fingers here ;)

Opening day of the farmers market was today.  I found a beautiful bunch of green garlic.  What a great edible centerpiece!
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With the amazingly warm Spring weather that we have had my family has…

Played Ball

Built a hoop house

Cried

Picnicked

Helped mama plant Spring beds

Worked our plots at the Franklin Community Garden on Work Day

Played with new friends

Got excited for our strawberry patch that has GROWN!!
Watched seedlings grow in the Spring garden

Took pictures of brothers

Watched cousin Xavier excel at soccer!

Loved on my boys!

Tried and trying to perfect homemade Mexican chorizo

Ate mama’s failed attempts

Made Pizza

Went morel mushroom hunting with my sis

Yup, a busy past few weeks but so much fun!  The Spring garden has grown even more.  Will need to take some new pics soon and share!  Until then, thank you Jesus for my family and for this life that you have given me!

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I was really excited when I heard that Cochon 555 had a tour stop in Des Moines.  I really wanted to go because I absolutely adored the mission and premise of this event.  Cochon 555 stands for 5 Pigs, 5 Chefs, 5 Winemakers.  Each chef is given a local heritage breed pig which they then cook from head to tail utilizing the entire animal in order to garner the most votes and be crowned the “King or Queen of Porc.”  The event serves as a link to preserving heritage breed pigs by promoting breed diversity in the national community.

To me, this has become very important.  To re-educate ourselves on the importance and taste difference of heritage breeds.  Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by farmers in the past, before the drastic reduction of breed variety caused by the rise of industrial agriculture.  Today, 75% of our pork comes from 3 breeds of pigs.  This is leaving many heritage breeds to become extinct.  Now what’s the big deal?  With the surge of low fat diets and the false research that saturated fat causes high cholesterol levels leading to cardiovascular disease, our meat, specifically pork has been altered in such a way that it no longer resembles pig meat from the past.  We have bred them to be so lean that they lack taste, flavor, and it’s now referred to as “the other white meat.”  Pork should be bright pink and when cooked it should still have color.  To top it all off, good quality pork meat should have swirls of fat intertwined with the meat.  I think of Jamon Iberico from Spain.  Slices of cured ham swirled with fat and flavor.  (It’s delicious topped with tomatoes on toast.)  Another huge difference is the amount of fat that the pig carries.  Heritage breeds are known to carry rich pork belly, back fat and leaf lard.  Today, industrial pigs don’t carry the fat as they did in the past.  I’m really excited as this year my friend Danelle from Stamps Family Farm is raising me a Berkshire hog raised on pasture.  I can’t wait!

A couple days before Cochon 555, Foodbuzz contacted Iowa bloggers and were giving away 5 sets of tickets to the event!  I jumped at the chance and was able to get a pair for my hubby and I!  It really pays to be a featured publisher for Foodbuzz!!  What’s even better is that I was finally going to have the opportunity to meet Alicia from Culinary Bliss.  A real foodie from Iowa City.

Upon our arrival to the swank Hotel Fort Des Moines in Downtown Des Moines, my hubby grabbed a micro-brew while I sampled some wine.

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Jasper County Winery was the only locally produced winery represented at the event.  The rest were from the Napa Valley in California.  As much as I would enjoy to support local wineries, I hate to admit that I have yet to taste a descent red wine from Iowa.  It has to do with our weather and growing conditions.  A short season with humid months just can’t produce the grapes that are needed.  They seem almost void of tannin.  I could be wrong…. but California has it down for sure and I will continue to support the wineries in the Napa Valley or Europe.
As we entered the main ballroom, Aaron King, the butcher, was burning off the hairs of a Berkshire hog in preparation of demonstrating how to break down the animal.  I was giddy with excitement.  Gross… right?!  Well, my hubby and I are planning on breaking down our own pig later on this year with the help of my father in law.  So I was definitely taking many pictures for our own records.

Set up around the entire ballroom were 5 tables where the chefs were handing out all of their creations. The five chefs were Cody Hogan from Kansas City who used a Berkshire hog.  Local George Formaro from Django and Centro who also used a Berkshire.  Howard Hanna, from River Club KC who used a Gloucestershire Old Spots.  The reigning King of Porc, Matt Steigerwald from Iowa who used a Red Wattle hog.  And last, Hal Jasa also from Iowa who used a Duroc hog.

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This was my first time being acquainted with Matt Steigerwald from Mount Vernon, Iowa. His restaurant Lincoln Cafe has garnered national praise for his ideology in local, seasonal and sustainable. This was by far my favorite chef and the one I voted for.  Let me show you why!
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Preparing Smoked Shoulder Sopes
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Ciccioli with pickled ramps and house bread
(Ciccioli is made from compressing, drying, and aging fatty left over pieces of pork.)
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My favorite morsel of the evening…
Belly Springroll with house kimchii and avocado yuzu puree
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Divine!  The springroll was filled with pork belly and as most Asians know to ease in the digestion, chef Matt Steigerwald topped it with house fermented kimchii!  He pickles all of his own relishes and is constantly playing with the amount of time he ferments.  This was a 3 month old ferment.  The finishing touch was the avocado puree.  A perfect amount of crunch, spice and the pork belly just melts in your mouth.  Perfect and definitely something I will try and recreate at home!
An array of assorted salumi and charcuterie, music to my ears!
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LARDO!
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I was thrilled to taste his lardo and it did not fail!
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For me, Matt had it down!!  I was impressed in that everything he served tasted wonderful.  A lot of time and energy was put into his meal.  From house cured charcuterie to fermented relishes, everything was made in house.  It’s in these details that take a simple dish to another level.  My friend Alicia is well acquainted with Matt and I had the opportunity to meet him later in the evening.  It was so much fun talking ferments, curing and his recent trip to Barcelona!  His first time in Spain where he left inspired by the food, the people and the culture.  He even had a couple pounds of Jamon Iberico confiscated from him that he was trying to bring back to his staff.  Let me tell you it’s in this ham made in Spain that turns peoples lives around!!  Yes… it’s that good!  I am now excited to visit Lincoln Cafe!
Our next stop was visiting the table of local chef George Formaro from Django and Centro here in Des Moines, Iowa.
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I was really excited when I approached his table as he was focusing on Mexican/South American food.  He was serving homemade chorizo and pork belly tacos.  One of my favorite pork sausages is Mexican chorizo so I was thrilled to taste his.  After serving us our tacos we were able to top it with different salsa’s and pico de gallo.

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I hate to say this but the chorizo lacked spice and flavor.  It was very bland and nothing compared to even the homemade chorizo they sell at our local Mexican grocer, La Tapatia.  What my husband and I really didn’t understand is that we were wanting a bit more of a spice and realized we were missing cilantro.  If only he would have added that into the pico or on it’s own, it would have brightened this taco up.

My second favorite chef was Howard Hanna from Kansas City.

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I really enjoyed that he was using the different parts of the animal including it’s organs.  My favorite though were his pickled and carmelized veggies.  So great after eating so much fat!

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Local chef, Hal Jasa from Des Moines
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When Gabe and I approached the table of Hal Jasa from Des Moines, it looked empty.  Food is really set by it’s visual appeal.  Serving bits of food in paper cups did not help this table attract people.  Gabe and I did pick up some beans with sausage which my husband told me reminded him of a Spanish dish.  When I tried it I was let down by the lack of flavor and the undercooked legume.  I am still excited, however, that this chef will be opening up a restaurant called Homage in Des Moines.  It’s said that it will focus on local, seasonal and sustainable agriculture. I hope it works out well as our city is in need of a restaurant like this.

Our last stop was visiting chef Cody Hogan from Kansas City.  His restaurant focuses on French cuisine.

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This chef also knew what he was doing!  Slow cooked pork topped with it’s fat and a side of greens to help our belly digest!  This was wonderful!!
By this time, Gabe and I were ready to head home and pick up our boys.  We had such a wonderful time at this event.  I even snuck in a picture with Alicia!!
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Gabe and I were very pleased to hear that Matt Steigerweld from Lincoln Cafe kept his crown and was named the 2010 King of Porc!  My only question, how about getting some bloggers involved?  I would love to take this challenge on!!  A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa at Cochon 555, that would be AWESOME!  
Thanks Cochon 555 and Foodbuzz for such an amazing time and in promoting the sustainability of heritage breed pigs!

This post is a part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday!

If you haven’t already checked out my latest giveaway, Ebersole Cattle Company is giving away a grassfed beef package!  Make sure to check them out and comment for your chance to win!

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According to random.org…

Congratulations to Christy!

Christy said…
I would love to know more about tallow and lard.

Well guess what, you are going to be able to soon!  The book fat has a wonderful section on lard and tallow including fabulous recipes!  Send me your shipping address, and I’ll make sure to get this book out to you!  Also, Jennifer McLagan will be sending you a signed bookplate for the book.  How great is that!!

Thanks everyone for entering.  I’m looking forward to starting my series soon with butter!

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This is Beau, Shanen and family from Ebersole Cattle Co.  I have been so blessed to have met Shanen about a year ago.  We met through local Iowa mama groups and have since become good friends.  She is a ranching mama, a true cowgirl and one that works hard… for you and me.
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Beau and Shanen raise pastured and grass fed beef.  I can go on to explain all that they do to ensure that their cattle is raised naturally, cared for and loved for, however, this post is about the struggles that real family farmers go through to be able to continue to provide nourishing meat for your family and mine.

Beau and Shanen are some pretty amazing people that are turning the Southern part of Iowa around.  If you’re from an agricultural state it’s understood that most farmers are from a generation of farmers.  Land gets passed down from generation to generation to continue on the family farm.  For cattle ranching, starting from scratch is difficult and cost prohibitive; most cattle ranchers either work for someone else or have had the operation in the family for several generations.  This is where the Ebersole passion comes to play.

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Both Beau and Shanen spent many years working for a large cattle ranch before purchasing their own farm.  Their land wasn’t handed down but instead they felt led to take out a loan and start from scratch.  A Cattle Rancher must be able to wear many hats to be successful. Managing money and a budget well enough to realize a profit from year to year can be a challenge. A cattle rancher must be knowledgeable in areas of nutrition, reproduction, marketing and animal health.  Shanen has an animal science degree from Iowa State University. As you can tell, both she and Beau were a match made in heaven!  I’ve spent many of hours chatting with Shanen.  She is truly knowledgeable and passionate about both the science and human love towards raising her cattle.  (In a future post, I will have a one on one video interview with Shanen!  Get ready for that, it’s going to be exciting!!)

For those of us that live in urban areas and that purchase beef already cut up and packaged, it’s difficult to understand what a cattle rancher does.  In the United States, there are basically two types of cattle producers: purebred and conventional. 

  • Purebred cattle producers produce breeding stock for area commercial producers. They are concerned with developing and merchandising a product that will improve the quality of offspring produced by commercial breeders. 
  • The conventional producer is in business to produce beef for the consumption of the world’s population. They will sell their calves at weaning or shortly thereafter.

Beau and Shanen Ebersole are conventional cattle producers of Maine-Anjou cattle moving towards an unconventional (grass fed) operation. In order to pay their farm loans, Beau currently has a full time job working at a large cattle ranch.  This leaves Shanen to do most of the cattle work throughout the week.  This family works hard!!  When Beau and Shanen first started on their ranch, they would raise their animals, and after their mama cow would calf they would sell them at the sale barn.  This means they would sell them to larger producer who would then take them to a feed lot.  A factory farm.

Shanen is a real foodie and loves her animals.  It pains her to have to take her beautiful calves and sell them to a feedlot.  A life without pasture and fed solely on grains.  This is when Beau and Shanen made the conscious decision to try and market their beef locally.  She wanted to raise them and pasture them on her land.  Now remember, their land wasn’t handed down.  They have bills to pay and it’s only for that reason that these calves are sold at the sale barn.  What is incredible about this family is that in 2 short years she went from selling her first pastured beef to selling 12 head of grassfed beef last year.  this year, she has an even bigger goal.  She doesn’t want to sell any of her calves at the sale barn.  She wants to finish them on her land, on her pasture, on her grass, and sell them directly to the consumer.  Directly to you and me!! 

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So here is the deal.  Shanen has 2 weeks to sell 6 more grass fed calves.  If these calves are not sold, they will end up being feedlot animals on grain.  Below is a picture taken this morning of calves drinking from their mama’s milk.  These beautiful healthy animals could nourish your family!
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Shanen has many different options available.  From refrigerator bundles, 1/4, 1/2, to whole.  You can even pay in what Shanen calls a PAY-AS-IT-GROWS plan!  
We have a strong desire to help people plan & afford HAPPY HEALTHY BEEF.  That is why we have designed this Pay-As-It-Grows plan.

You can reserve your beef up to 9 months in advance & make affordable payments each month until your beef is delivered.  This allows us to care for our animals & pay our bills while your beef is growing. Call Shanen & we’ll help you design a plan that will work for both of us!  We’re always open to ideas!

Shanen does ship and has customers in various states!  The shipping is quite affordable and the nourishment you will receive is priceless!  Remember that some of the health benefits of eating grass fed beef is the omega 3 content that it has!

The Giveaway!!

In order to show her gratitude and enthusiasm to show everyone the great tasting, Happy, Healthy, Beef that she raises she has agreed to a giveaway!!

Remember I said Shanen is a Real Foodie?!  Well guess what?  She is offering 2 of my readers an Ebersole Cattle Co. grassfed beef package including…

  • 2 lbs of grassfed ground beef
  • 1 package of grassfed beef sticks
  • 1 quart of rendered beef tallow!!!!!

How exciting is that?!  Beef Tallow, YUH!!!  This is all about Shanen, so here’s what you need to do!  Also, to those of you that do order beef from her, she is offering a 5% discount to all of my readers!

How To Enter:

  1. Leave me a comment why family farmers like Shanen are so important to the health of our families.
  2. Become a fan of Ebersole Cattle Co on Facebook
  3. Follow Ebersole Cattle Co on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway. (copy and paste)

    @dianabauman @greenranchmom Grassfed Beef Giveaway including rendered beef tallow! #giveaway  #realfood http://shar.es/muQjb

  4. Follow Shanen’s personal blog for a closer insight into her life as a ranching mama, Green Ranching Mom

Please Remember, leave a separate comment for each entry, or your extra entries will not count!

Every comment must include an email address – it’s ok if you comment with your blog account as long as I can get to your email through your blog!  The giveaway ends May 10th and is open to the Continental US only.  The winner will be chosen by random.org.

Now go out and support FAMILY FARMERS!!!



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Do you remember about my recent experience in New York City to participate in Kelly Ripa’s Cake Off For A Cause?  As much fun as I had with that experience, one of the highlights of my trip to New York City was meeting the lovely Christine from Fresh Local and Best.

I was tweeting as Christine and I literally passed by
Mario Batali and a friend on the streets of NYC!
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I would like to start this post by saying that Christine is one of the most hospitable, genuine people I have met.  After my time with the Cake Off event, I met up with Christine and my hubby at the hotel of the lobby I was staying at.  Right away I knew who she was.  I was so excited to meet her that I ran up to her and we gave each other a big hug!  I had been in communication with Christine before so honestly, when I first saw her it felt as though I were reuniting with an old friend.  Isn’t the blogging world great!  We hit it off right away.

What’s great about Christine and I is that we are both local foodie advocates.  She hails from San Francisco and is in touch with where her food comes from.  She uses real food and let me tell you, she is not afraid of using and eating REAL FAT!!  My kind of woman!  In SF she was a gardener and she taught me the coolest thing while in NYC… she has a FIG TREE in her apartment!!  A fig tree that she started in SF, brought with her to NYC and it produced 8 figs last year.  She inspires me!

We had a blast!  She started our evening by taking us to Chelsea Market.  A market filled with vendors selling real local food.

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This was one of my favorite places that she took me to.  The Lobster Place!  
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Fresh shellfish and seafood!  I ended up ordering fresh sardines, fish and shrimp.  I’ll have a future post showing just how my mami and I cooked these babies up!  It  was the BEST seafood we have had in the states.  My mami even stated that if she closed her eyes she would have thought she were in Spain while eating the sardines!!  You can order online and we will definitely be doing this in the future!
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The best prawns and sardines I have ever had in the States!!
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After the Chelsea Market and my hubby goofing off…

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Christine took us to Bar Jamón, a tapas bar in the line of Mario Batali’s restaurants. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures from the tapas bar as it was so dark inside and flash photography was not allowed.  Check out Christine’s recap for some photos!  As much as I enjoyed the dishes served I had hoped for something a little more authentic and true to Spain.  I have had the opportunity to visit many tapas bars in the States.  From Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, California, and NYC I still haven’t sat at a tapas bar that captures the essence of what it is in Spain.  Tapas are usually way overdone and expensive.  Tapas bars in Spain are meant to be a place to relax over simple small dishes.  Nothing elegant about them and that is what makes them so special.  I can not wait to share with you in detail what a real Spanish tapas bar is when I get to Spain :D  2 more weeks!!!
After Bar Jamon, Christine took us to a ramen house, Ippudo’s in the East Village for dinner.  I had no idea we were in the East Village until I read Christine’s post.  Gabe and I were pretty excited to read that we were there, lol!  This place was HEAVEN!!!  Gabe and I are still talking about it and I am definitely going to recreate this…
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This was DELICIOUS!  A pork bun.  Steamed bread filled with tender pieces of Berkshire pork belly!  Oh my gosh… Gabe couldn’t stop talking about it, so I’m going to have to make this as soon as I get some local pork belly!!
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We rounded out the meal with a fresh bowl of ramen.  Home cooked noodles and so delicious!  What an amazing day of food!! Poor Christine, by this time she was exhausted as she had just arrived from a trip to France.  A culinary getaway which focused on spending time in the countryside in the South of France to harvest and learn how to prepare black truffles.  A must see
It was after this dinner that we hugged and parted ways.  Thank you Christine for taking the time to have made this such a special trip for my husband and I.  As happy as I was to have met Christine, I’m only happier to call her my friend!  Un besote amiga!! 
If you haven’t had the chance, stop by Christine’s blog Fresh, Local and Best.  She is just as kind and genuine in person as she is in the blogosphere.

Asparagus and Chorizo
My heart sings for the first asparagus of the season.  My farmers market still hasn’t started and I don’t yet have an asparagus patch but I couldn’t wait.  I found organic asparagus on sale and was sold!  Asparagus can be made so many different ways but one thing is almost a consensus, to be done right it needs extra virgin olive oil!  Check out my facebook fan page for about 19 other ways to make seasonal asparagus.  Here are a few of my favorites from all of you!!  Thanks facebook fans for sharing!!

Alie – steamed with homemade hollandaise sauce

Paula Vitchkoski Jones from Bellalimento – Baked in a paper bag w/lemon & lots of garlic ;)
Linda – Tossed with olive oil, sea salt and orange zest and roasted at high heat in the oven for about 6 min! 
Brook – Steamed then tossed with olive oil and lavender pepper from the farmers market.
Therese Asmus from Artistta – Tossed in olive oil with salt and either cooked under a broiler in the oven or on the grill. Yum!
Hope – brush with olive oil and favorite seasonings and grill it! YUM!

As you can tell, evoo has it!  It’s really no surprise. Beautiful flavors are created when you use olive oil and it’s so versatile as you can use any seasoning for a completely different taste.  Whether you steam, broil or grill asparagus is delicate and if done right has a gentle crunch when you bite.

What is so cool about asparagus is that it’s a perennial and literally has no leaves.  What you see is exactly how it grows from the ground.  A patch takes about 3 years to come in and lasts for many more.  So if you establish a nice asparagus patch you’ll be enjoying it the first part of Spring for many years.  Check out a picture of this overgrown asparagus I took at the community garden last year!
Asparagus is a rich source of folate and potassium.  According to Worlds Healthiest Foods, Asparagus benefits our gut flora!  
Asparagus contains a special kind of carbohydrate called inulin that we don’t digest, but the health-promoting friendly bacteria in our large intestine, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, do. When our diet contains good amounts of inulin, the growth and activity of these friendly bacteria increase. And when populations of health-promoting bacteria are large, it is much more difficult for unfriendly bacteria to gain a foothold in our intestinal tract.

Make sure to take advantage of the delicious recipes and health benefits of eating asparagus this season!

Espárrago Con Chorizo – Asparagus with Spanish Chorizo Sausage

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, cut in half
  • 2 small links, Palacios Spanish Chorizo Sausage, sliced
  • EVOO
  • Large Granule Sea Salt to sprinkle

Method:

  1. In a cast iron skillet warm 2 – 3 tbl of EVOO.
  2. When the oil is heated through, add the asparagus and brown on both sides until tender
  3. Add the chorizo sausage and mix in allowing it’s flavors to incorporate for about 5 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.

Buen Provecho!

Other recipes of interest: Tortilla Española con Espárrago – Spanish Tortilla with Asparagus

 Don’t forget about my fat book giveaway! One more week to enter for your very own copy signed by the author!!!